Ultra-small SORA-Q (LEV-2) photo of SLIM. Image credit: JAXA/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Japan’s SLIM lunar lander has now entered a dormant state, slipping into a two-week stint of sun-shy induced silence.

According to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), the ground control team for the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) said a last photo session was taken.

SLIM’s multi-band spectroscopic camera took this lunar landscape image created by synthesizing 257 low-resolution monochrome pictures. Based on this landscape image, the team is sorting out rocks of interest, assigning a nickname to each of them, with intent of communicating their relative sizes smoothly by the names.
Image credit: JAXA/Inside Outer Space screengrab

No response

“Last night [Jan. 31 into February 1] we sent a command to switch on SLIM’s communicator again just in case, but with no response, we confirmed SLIM had entered a dormant state.”

SLIM was launched last year, on September 6, 2023. Japan’s SLIM lander touched down on the Moon on January 19, making Japan the 5th nation to land on lunar territory.

Harsh lunar night

The spacecraft has now entered a two week dormancy period, a 14-day lunar night, 14-day lunar day cycle.

Image credit: JAXA/ISAS

“Although SLIM was not designed for the harsh lunar nights, we plan to try to operate again from mid-February, when the Sun will shine again on SLIM’s solar cells,” a JAXA/ISAS X/Twitter posting explained.

Image credit: JAXA/ISAS

Despite a failed rocket motor engine that led to blowing off its thruster nozzle, the craft made an unplanned “nose down” landing.

Descent landing woes aside, SLIM’s autopilot guidance led to a near pinpoint touchdown near Shioli crater – a goal of the mission.


Multiple robot exploration

Carried by SLIM was a multiband spectroscopic camera that relayed images before the craft’s power ebbed.

Image credit: JAXA/ISAS

In addition, imagery of the SLIM’s final, nose-down landing locale was taken by the SORA-Q, a baseball-sized mobile rover – a transformer-like toy device produced by the Takara Tomy Corporation.

During SLIM’s lunar descent, the ultra-small SORA-Q, dubbed LEV-2, was ejected. So too was LEV-1, a sidekick robot that executed leaping movements across the lunar landscape, including inter-robot test radio wave data transmission from the transformable lunar robot, LEV-2.

Artwork depicts the palm-sized Lunar Excursion Vehicle, LEV-2.
Image credit: JAXA/ISAS




LEV 1 and LEV 2 are the world’s first completely autonomous robots to explore the Moon, and the world’s first simultaneous lunar surface exploration by multiple robots, according to a JAXA statement.

Japan’s SLIM team.
Image credit: JAXA/ISAS

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